Changing course when it comes to your career is already difficult enough — there’s the fear of the unknown, the need to acquire a brand new skill set, and oh yeah, the potential cost associated with going back to school.
If you’re looking to transition into tech, it’s not necessarily school that you need to be worried about, however — the emergence of coding bootcamps over the last few years has made it a bit more accessible to start programming a bit later in life. And while many of these bootcamps espouse a commitment to access and diversifying the tech scene, the fact remains that the majority of these programs are wildly expensive, creating a rather self-selecting cohort of students every cycle. But now, there may be a solution. The U.S. Department of Education has launched a new experiment that seeks to give financial aid to coding bootcamp students.
Known as the Educational Quality through Innovation Partnerships (EQUIP) experiment, this new program “will allow students –particularly low-income students — to access federal student aid for the first time to enroll in programs offered by non-traditional training providers, in partnership with colleges and universities, including coding bootcamps, online courses, and employer organizations.”
According to the Education Department, the goals of this experiment include finding new ways of granting access to innovative learning and training opportunities, and strengthening “approaches for outcomes-based quality assurance processes that focus on student learning and other outcomes.” Ultimately, the Department notes, EQUIP aims to improve college access, affordability, and student outcomes.
Four of the eight programs selected to participate in EQUIP are coding bootcamps — there’s the Flatiron School, which partnered with SUNY Empire State College; MakerSquare, who has partnered with the University of Texas; Zip Code Wilmington, who will be working with Wilmington University; and Epicodus, which will work alongside Marylhurst University. All four of these programs and their respective partners will offer students a certificate program of some sort, with the exception of Zip Code Wilmington, which is instead offering a 12-week software development bootcamp.
“I’m thrilled that students will soon have access to these innovative programs, developed in partnership with colleges and new providers, with the help of federal financial aid,” said Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell. “As these innovative programs continue to develop, it will be increasingly important to understand what an outcomes-based quality assurance system looks like for such programs. I am encouraged to see that these colleges, providers, and quality assurance entities have stepped forward to provide models for doing so.”